Category Archives: Administrator

Hurricane Harvey – Our thoughts for landlords

HurricaneHarveySatellite-NASA
Photo credit: NASA

Hurricane Harvey in Texas has been catastrophic in so many ways and has affected millions of lives. I know because many of us at Tenant File are from that area and have friends and relatives living there.  Though the Tenant File headquarters is in Austin Texas, which was spared much of the fury, our friends to the south weren’t so lucky. Our best wishes and prayers go out to all of those affected as many of them are still going through rough times at the time of this writing.

Personally, my parents live in Victoria. Hurricane Harvey crept in to Texas around Rockport, which was devastated. Victoria is only 29 miles from the coast, and that is where Harvey parked itself for 3 days. Both my parents live in an assisted living facility, and we got word on Thursday night that they had a mandatory evacuation by 9:00 am the next morning. They told everyone in Victoria they had to get out. The city has around 80,000 residents, so you can imagine the panic and confusion.

The only place to go was my sister’s farmhouse 10 miles away, but my 87 year old mother passed out getting in the car and had to be rushed to the hospital in Victoria. She rode out the unrelenting lashing in the hospital with my sister, and my 92 year old dad hunkered down at the wood frame farmhouse. It was hit with the fury of Harvey but the 100 year old house withstood the winds and torrential rain. After the second night, they had to evacuate my mother from the Victoria hospital, because the hospital was filling up with critical patients. So my mother went to San Antonio. My father had been without electricity since the storm hit. Power came on Monday night for them, but many residents in Victoria are still without power now.

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Photo credit: AdreesLatif-Reuters

The point is, you never know what is going to happen. It could be a hurricane, a flood, earthquake, terrorist attack, fire, burglary or whatever … so you have to be prepared.  If you are a landlord, you are in charge of protecting your property but you also have a responsibility to your tenants. Of course there are legal responsibilities, such as providing a safe and habitable environment for them. But I’m talking about moral responsibilities. Is there a tree leaning over the rental, such as a Chinaberry tree that has a shallow root system? That is dangerous for both your tenants and your property, so you should deal with that before the worst happens.  Is it near a creek or in a low-lying area prone to flooding? Maybe you should consider barriers or improve the landscaping to handle the runoff. Are there loose shingles, siding, or stacks of lumber or other items that could become a hazard in high wind?  Fix it, or get rid of it. Do you have an evacuation plan or a means to contact your tenants quickly? Get one. Can your tenants get in touch with you if they have to leave quickly and need to know the status of their home? Be sure they have the information they need, by sending them a text or email explaining the situation, and keeping them updated on a regular basis. Let them know that you care.

HurricaneHarvey-AP
Photo credit: AP

Also, you should require renters insurance for your tenants. While the structure of your building has to be insured, many tenants mistakenly think that their own belongings are covered through your insurance. It is up to you, the landlord, to let them know that it is mandatory (or should be) that they get renters insurance for themselves. It is affordable and can be tailored to cover their pets, liability for visitors, theft, fire and natural disasters.

HurricaneHarvey-MarkRalstonAFP-50 Getty
MarkRalstonAF-Getty

And of course, don’t neglect getting insurance for your own property! That can certainly put you in legal jeopardy. A friend of mine knows a tenant in Houston that evacuated. Her rental home exploded because of a gas leak caused by Hurricane Harvey. The house burned down, but thank God she had already left. The landlord did not have insurance on the house, nor did it pass the compliance protocol for gas burners.  Image if that was your rental home… this will probably be a nightmare for the landlord as well as the tenant. And to think, what if the tenant didn’t leave in time? There is no excuse for neglecting your rental property, for your own sake, and morally for the sake of your tenant.

I guess the best thing to do is to put yourself in the shoes of your tenants, and think about what you would need if a disaster strikes. Then don’t put it off, because you never know what will happen and it might be too late later on. Fortunately, my parents are ok, but it could have been much worse. For millions of people in Houston, Galveston, Port Lavaca, Rockport, Port Aransas and hundreds of other cities along the coast and inland river ways, this is a nightmare coming true. Please provide whatever help that you can!

About the author: Wayne Gathright is the president of the Tenant File Property Management Software company. For more information, visit http://www.TenantFile.com.

Ransomware Attack Affects the World

We have been warning about computer security for a good while now, and it has happened again – BIG TIME. Last week a world-wide ransomware virus was released, and to date it has affected computers in over 150 countries … and still growing.

Ransomware - Tenant File BlogSo what is ‘ransomware’?  It is particularly disturbing because you won’t know until a message appears on your computer screen telling you that your files have already been encrypted. If you look at your files, you’ll see a long number instead of the file name. For a ransom payment (in bitcoins) your data will be un-encrypted. This nasty bug has infected both servers and Internet connected computers, so nobody is really safe. Because of an alert individual in the UK, the US was spared from the initial attack, however, it is very possible that the attackers can make a few adjustments and send out more modified versions that will be even more devastating than the first wave. At the time of this writing, 3 modifications have been released.

This is not a ‘Russian’ attack; in fact, Russia was one of the first to be hit, along with Britain and Japan. The US is only just now compiling the toll, but we know FedEx and a large number of US based business have been on the receiving end. What it ‘does’ show is that the Internet is very vulnerable to cyber attack on a large scale.

So what does this have to do with property managers? The property management business is one of the most likely and vulnerable targets for future attacks. The property managers hold sensitive information on owners, their bank accounts, email addresses, social security numbers and rental properties. They also have information on millions of tenants, their bank accounts, passwords, social security numbers and other confidential information. Most of the web-based property management software companies were rushed to the market within the past 5 years, and I would venture that most of them do not have even moderate protection against an advanced hack attack.

While any computer connected to the Internet is at risk, we think that desktop software is much better protected. You would be smart to even have a computer that is not connected to the Internet in any way, so that you can run desktop based software in the event of a cyber attack or another ransomware attack. It will happen to you eventually, it is just a matter of time, and it could even come in the form of a natural disaster that is man-made or comes via Mother Nature. No matter what kind of property management software you have, be sure to make local backups of your data – don’t count on a stranger’s word that they maintain ‘redundant’ copies of your data. Since the servers are connected, a massive attack is likely to affect all of them. Your best defense is a copy of your data that you can hold in your hand.

At Tenant File, we have already saved a good number of customers that had their data encrypted, by helping them restore their program and backups. We’ve heard horror stories of web-based software customers that lost everything, and had to start from scratch, hunting through file folders to try and re-create their owner and tenant financial history. And they are left wondering if they will be held responsible for the owner and tenant data that is now in a hacker’s hands. We hope you never have to experience that!

How The Internet Has Affected Property Management

property management chartWhile the real estate market is traditionally slow to change, it is now embracing the Internet. Here are some thoughts on how the Internet has affected property management.

Nearly every profession has been affected by the rapid pace of technological innovation. Technology has created entirely new fields, eliminated some fields and dramatically altered others. One profession that you might expect to be relatively insulated from the intrusion of technology is property management. After all, property management will always involve the management of a physical property. While it is true that property management will always involve dealing with people and the places they live, and while that implies the use of a skill-set that is to some degree independent of technology, the field of property management has certainly been affected by technology and the internet. Here are some of the ways the field of property rental management has changed over the years.

Property Leads

For those looking to break into the field of real estate or property management by acquiring an initial property or by expanding their current portfolio, the process of locating a property has been made more efficient by the internet. While many property managers will tell you that there is no replacement for scouting out properties in person, there is no doubt that the internet is now utilized by many to find properties. Online search engines allow property managers to search for properties and filter their search by variables related to size, price and location.

Property Management Software

The process of managing property has also been affected by technology; specifically, many property managers now use property management software to assist them with the many tasks involved in managing their tenants and properties. The software allows things like calculating payments, collecting payments and paying bills to be done automatically. Previously, these tasks would have taken up a considerable amount of time for a property manager. The software frees them up to focus on other areas of their business.

 

Massive Cyber Attack – Are Property Management Companies at Risk?

Property Management Company Post Cyber AttackI told you so. I’ve been warning about this for a good while now, and this is only the beginning.  In particular, if you are using web-based property management software, you should think about what you are doing. You are putting your own security, your tenants, and your property owners at risk, and probably paying a hefty monthly sum to do it.

I’m talking about the huge cyber attack that came in three waves on Friday.  If you were not directly affected, it was probably (1) because the hackers didn’t bother with smaller websites or (2) because it wasn’t your turn yet.  Here are some of the ones it did affect:

Airbnb
Etsy
Spotify
Twitter
The New York Times
The Financial Times
CNBC.com
Amazon
Netflix
Github

Ladies and gentlemen, these sites are no pushover sites for hackers (or are they?). Supposedly these sites are some of the best secured sites in the world, and hackers managed to get to them all at once. If these sites are vulnerable, how secure do you think your property management software website is? Most of them weren’t even around 5 years ago, and I would venture that none of them have anywhere ‘close’ to the level of cyber security protection of the sites that got invaded.

In a recent NBCNews.com post I saw the comment for consumers to “think carefully about what and when they connect devices to a cloud or even to the internet in general.” In a previous blog, I speculated on a scenario specifically for property managers called “A Day in the Life of a Property Manager Post Cyber Attack”. It is almost scary how real that seems now.

My experience is in property management and I admit it is in my financial interest for people to purchase desktop software. But the reason we have continued to offer on-premise rental property software is because there is a large market of landlords and managers that don’t want to risk their business and their client base. Plus, the monthly fees for web-based software companies are never ending, and will wind up costing a fortune in the long run.

This year, on the Buildium blog (a web-based competitor) it was stated, “Is your company at risk? Basically: yes. Every landlord, property manager, or real estate professional has access to (and stores) sensitive, confidential, personally-identifiable information on tenants and employees.”

And who is vulnerable? Basically everyone, but consider this information from the same blog “Businesses with fewer than 250 employees account for somewhere between 20-30% of all cyber attacks.”

And how easy it to recover from an attack? Read on,60 percent of small businesses close their doors within months of a successful cyber attack.”

I LOVE technology so don’t get me wrong! We always are looking for new ways to innovate and provide our customers with the best experience possible. But that can be done without storing your valuable data on a remote server that can be attacked at any time. And when that happens, you might suddenly find yourself in an office with no access to your tenants, your owners, your vendors, your accounting, and your customers. And I ask, is that worth the risk?

Is Free Tech Support a Thing of the Past?

Tenant File Tech SupportWe hear from our customers how they have been disappointed in many of the web-based products and the lack of support they provide. Many of them migrate back to the Tenant File after trying something else. Call it old fashioned, but we still favor the safety and security of a desktop based program, and the convenience of good customer technical support.

At Tenant File, we hope that free tech support is not a thing of the past. We have been one of the few software companies that have managed to keep it free. Our industry leading web support has always been free for all customers, even if you did not purchase the previous update. We have a dedicated team of knowledgeable support technicians which monitor incoming ‘tickets’ (web requests) throughout each work day. Each technician has a massive computerized knowledge base to draw from, and each ticket is answered personally. We answer all tickets by the end of the day with few exceptions. (Sometimes we get calls that a ticket wasn’t responded to, and nearly always it can be found in the customer’s junk or spam box, so be sure to mark ‘support@tenantfile.com’ as a ‘safe sender’).

But the Tenant File support goes way beyond that … our first-time customers get a full two months of phone support, and even current customers enjoy a month of phone support in case they have any questions about the update. Phone support is limited to ½ a day (hours 10:00am to 2:00pm CST) and limited to 10 minutes per call, since we are supporting over 5,000 customers and sometimes it gets really busy. We don’t ‘sub’ out our support to foreign countries, so you’ll always get a knowledgeable Tenant File expert. And if the lines happen to be busy when you call during phone support hours, just leave a message and we will call you back as soon as a support person gets available.

Even after the free phone support period has expired, Tenant File still offers paid support in 15 or 30 minute segments. The pricing is very reasonable, and the 30 minute segment can include the ability for the Tenant File technician to connect remotely to the user’s computer to see or actually operate the program. This paid service can also be used if the customer wants us to install the program, move the Tenant File program to another computer, or even close out the year for them. This will save quite a bit over hiring an outside computer technician to come and do the work in person.

Tenant File Phone Support

In addition to the web and phone support, Tenant File includes a full User’s Guide in the ‘Help’ menu of each Tenant File installation, as well as a ‘Quick Start’ guide. The User’s Guide is comprehensive and searchable, so just about any question can be answered with a quick search (user Ctrl-F).  The guide includes screen shots, illustrations, samples, and step-by-step instructions on most tasks.

Also, at the Tenant File website, you can find helpful videos that take you through the entire program. We are busy adding new ones, and take recommendations from our customers. You can also find videos on YouTube if you search for ‘Tenant File’.

Our customers are very important to us, and we try very hard to impress with our service. Tenant File is one of the few property management software programs that charge a one-time fee for the software, eliminating the never-ending monthly payments that can hook the customer into an ever increasing financial nightmare. Then, when the Internet is down and you are left at a standstill, you have no recourse (other than moving to the Tenant File!).

To our current Tenant File customers, thank you and please know that we are always trying to help you become successful and run your business the most efficient way possible. We really appreciate your business!

The Tenant File Support Staff

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Rental Maintenance Tips for Landlords

TenantFile.com Roof MaintenanceJust like buying a new car, you are excited at the possibilities and rewards that you will get with ownership.  Unfortunately, just like a new car, someday you’ll have to pay for maintenance and upkeep – it is simply a part of managing property, but there are many things you can do to prepare. Try these rental maintenance ideas and you’ll find it much easier.

Start your maintenance fund now.  A  good start would be to save enough money for major roof repairs. Hopefully, you won’t need it for that, but you’ll need it for other repairs anyway.  You might need to replace a major appliance or have trees that need to be removed for safety purposes.

You should do a monthly inspection of your rental property. Go through the entire house inside and outside and take detailed notes of damage that you need to repair, or damage that the tenant might be responsible for.

Remember that anything you do to improve the property will help the resale value later, so don’t put off repairs.  They’ll get more expensive later on, and you might avert a major catastrophe.

The repairs and maintenance costs for your rental property are tax deductible, so be sure to keep good records. If you have major expenses, you might be able to depreciate those costs over several years. We suggest that you have a software program that can log your work orders, expenses, and then export to your accountant at the end of the year.

Your relationship with your tenant is very important in maintaining your property. Tenants are often willing to help with maintenance or repairs to keep their home looking nice and maybe save some on the rent, so work with them on providing materials in exchange for repairs.

Lastly, don’t think you can do it all by yourself. Use an expert to evaluate the property, looking for slab cracks, termites, bad wiring and other potentially disastrous problems. If you are good with tools you can realize substantial savings, but if you need training, you can take advantage of free clinics at the local Home Depot or Lowe’s. In these job specific lessons, you can learn to repair door frames, install a new toilet and replace the flooring in the kitchen.

We hope you have a property that requires little maintenance and few repairs, but that is probably pie in the sky.  However, if you do your prepare ahead of time,  you’ll save money and have a sense of pride and accomplishment in your rental property.

Comparing 30-Year and 15-Year Mortgages

TenantFile.com House Image
You have found the perfect house and now it is time to obtain financing. There are many choices when it comes to financing so it is always wise to understand the pros and cons of a 30-year mortgage versus a 15-year mortgage.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a 30-Year Mortgage

A 30-year mortgage allows the mortgagor to keep their payments low. A borrower’s financial situation can change at any time. Keeping payments low will make it easier for the borrower to afford their mortgage payment even if their financial situation changes.

Another advantage to a 30-year mortgage is the ability to save money. Because the payments are low, borrowers can pay off other debts, make home improvements and put money in savings for unexpected expenditures.

The main disadvantage of a 30-year loan is that the borrower will pay more interest over the lifetime of a loan. When the payment is calculated, it will include interest that is paid monthly. This monthly interest will add up over the lifetime of a loan, costing the borrower more money over the life of the loan.

Another disadvantage of to a 30-year loan is a higher interest rate. Generally, the longer the term of the mortgage, the higher the APR. This means that the borrower will end up paying more in interest each month.

Finally, 30-year loans may not be the optimum choice for those who have children who will be starting college over the life of the loan or for people who plan to retire before the loan will be paid off.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a 15-Year Mortgage

The main advantage of a 15-year loan is the borrower can pay off the mortgage in half the time of a traditional 30-year mortgage. This is especially advantageous to borrowers who will be retiring soon or those with children who will be attending college soon.

The borrower will pay thousands of dollars less on a 15-year loan. In some instances, this can mean tens of thousands of dollars in savings over the lifetime of the loan when compared to a 30-year loan.

The interest rate is generally lower on a shorter term loan. For example, the current interest rate, as of 2016 (http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/current-interest-rates.aspx), on a 15-year fixed rate is 2.89 percent while the interest rate on a 30-year mortgage is 3.63 percent. That is almost three-quarters of a percent lower, which can save a lot of money over the lifetime of a loan.

One of the disadvantages of a 15-year mortgage is a higher monthly payment. This can be an issue if the mortgagor’s financial situation changes. If the mortgagor loses his/her job, it can be more difficult to pay the mortgage payments.

Finally, because the amount of the mortgage is calculated on the borrower’s debt to income ratio, the amount of the loan that he or she qualifies for may be reduced. This can affect the quality of a home that the person will qualify for.

There are many things to consider when choosing between a 15-year mortgage and a 30-year mortgage. Many people think that the amount of the payments on a 15-year loan will be twice the amount of a 30-year loan. This is not true. If a borrower took out a 30-year mortgage for $200,000 with an interest rate of 4 percent, the payment would be $954.83. The payment amount on a 15-year mortgage with the same interest rate would be $1,479.38.

When deciding which mortgage is best, borrowers should consider their current financial situation as well as their long-term financial goals. Borrowers who prefer to minimize their payment and maximize their loan amount should opt for a 30-year mortgage. Those who wish to pay their mortgage off quickly and save on interest should opt for a 15-year mortgage.


Jeremy Johnson is a real estate enthusiast and has written content for dozens of real estate and related sites around the world. RealEstateCompanies.info is a side project he maintains because of his interest in real estate.

Tenant File Welcomes New Marketing VP

PRESS RELEASE: Tenant File Property Management Software Welcomes New Marketing VP

W G Software, Inc. the creators of Tenant File Property Management Software, have just announced that student Matthew Zuniga will now be a part of the company, as a Marketing VP, effective immediately.

Matthew Zungia - Tenant File Marketing VPW G Software, Inc. provides an outstanding property management software for owners and managers of rental property, and has been doing so for over 15 years. The software allows users to easily keep track of all the different aspects involved with property management. Currently, the software has several thousands of landlords, property owners, and property management using the software every single day. Wayne Gathright, president, says “I am very excited to have Matthew on our team, and I look forward to seeing what he can bring to the company. I met with Matthew and I knew right away that he was the person that I wanted to work with.  I believe that he has the necessary skills and motivation to expand the reach of the Tenant File software for rental property.”

Matthew is a currently senior at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, and is majoring in Computer Science with a Minor in Mathematics. When he is not working or focusing on his studies, Matthew enjoys listening to music, playing video games, exercising, reading, and posting on social media. When asked about the position, Matthew says “I have a love of social media, and I am very interested in Internet Marketing as well. I feel like when you mix those two aspects with my strong computer background, I believe that I can make a positive impact on the Tenant File organization. I look forward to working with Wayne and the rest of the company and learning as much as I possibly can about Internet Marketing in the process.”


Tenant File is the industry leader of on-premise desktop property management software for small to medium size businesses. Additionally, the Tenant File has produced integrated add-on products for 1099 MISC Tax software, Work Orders, RentalWIZ for posting vacancies to the Internet and other applications. For more information about Tenant File, visit http://www.TenantFile.com, or follow @TenantFile on Twitter.

Tenant File Logo

Web-based or On-premise Desktop Based?

Tenant File logoWe used to get asked why the Tenant File is not in the cloud … it seems there are hundreds of property management software programs doing that, so web-based must the the next great new thing, right? No. Well, now we get lots of calls from property managers that are sick and tired of the ever escalating and unending monthly fees, downtime, and the high security risks.  So I wanted to address how the Tenant File is doing . . .

Happy GirlYes, the Tenant File DESKTOP Property Management Software is still going strong.  Our user-base is growing every day. If you have tried moving to web-based software thinking that it will make your property management run smoother and are now tired of paying a monthly fee PER UNIT for some company on the ‘cloud’ to hold your important information and you now want to get back in control of managing  your rentals, come back to the Tenant File.  Throughout the years, we have made many important upgrades and additions to the Tenant File.   To name a few:

The Tenant File Version 8 now includes up to ten Bank Accounts up from the original 3 Bank Accounts

  • Additional posting fields were added to the POST RENT INCOME section, the screen that  allows you to quickly post rent income from a large number of tenants very quickly, or just to post a few rents as needed.    Additionally, this screen enables you to create a bank deposits for the rent posted, post management fees, post late fees received, and add another payment for any income account in the chart of accounts. You can even write a check to your own company for management fees posted.
  • The Tenant File now allows you to have up to 6 different RECURRING FIELDS for charges that are in addition to the typical rent posting, management fee posting, and late fee charges. The recurring field amounts are kept in the Unit Information for every rental unit.
  • Additional Reports were added to Version 8, such as the Ledger Balances Current (Compact), Owner Audit Report, Owner Profit and Loss Report, Owner Invoices , Late Rent/Late Fees Due , Security Deposits Receipts Posted, Tenant Balances Aging Report , Tenant Rent Payment Summary , Register – All Bank Accounts , Property MTD/YTD Summary, Company Profit and Loss Report, Tenant Balances (Range) , Owner Vacancy Listing , Tenant Delinquency By Owner – just to name a few.
  • The new Security Deposit Disposition Screen allows you to easily take care of the deposit postings when your tenant moves out.
  • The Owner Invoice allows you to take any posting (or multiple postings) in the ledgers and create an invoice for those transactions. This is actually a report, so it is accessed from the Reports screen.
  • The Tenant File now supports any number of Automatic Rent Increases, for any rental unit, and for any date in the future. On the screen below, you simply select the rental unit, enter the amount and date of the increase, and the program will do the rest.
  • Automated Late Fee Postings were added with release of the Tenant File 8. It allows you to set the late fee individually for each tenant separately in the Tenant Ledger under ‘Setup/View Fees’. So, if you charge late fees differently for different tenants, you charge DAILY LATE FEES and you want them to be automated, or if you simply want a hands off’ method for late fee posting, this method is for you.
  • Upload Vacancies to the Web – Version 8 entitles you to a no obligation ONE YEAR subscription to RentalWIZ, which provides you a free web page branded for your company, uploads to other Internet rental sites, and more!

Property Manager HandshakeIf you have an older version of the Tenant File and are ready to get back to running your property management business in your own office, you can order the Tenant File update and STOP paying monthly fees for your own software.  If you have never had the opportunity to try the Tenant File DESKTOP Property Management software but have been looking for a reliable desktop software program that has been on the market for over twenty years with thousands of happy customers, click into www.TenantFile.com to review our program.   The Update purchase includes a month of free phone support to assist you with familiarizing yourself with the software while new purchases include two months of phone support.  Plus, users have the ability to use the WEB SUPPORT Ticket System that will continually provide answers to all individual questions at no additional charge.  We know that you will be happy with how smoothly and simply the program will take care of all of your property management needs – right from your own computer.

How to Avoid Scammers

Angry Property ManagerMost warnings and media stories about scams on rental listing sites such as Craigslist focus on helping renters avoid scams, but landlords and property managers are often targeted as well. Here are some of the most common ways in which property managers and landlords find themselves getting scammed — and how they can prevent it. Learning how to avoid scammers is critical to your success.

Three Types of Scams:

Smoke-and-Mirrors Scams

Scammers steal pictures and property listing descriptions from authentic rental listings, and post them elsewhere online to lure renters. The alternative postings include suspiciously low pricing and contain fake email addresses or 800-numbers, which the scammer uses to draw renters in. For the landlord, their legitimate listing is passed over by tenants clicking on the lower price option, and can create suspicions that the legitimate listing is a scam as well.<

Lawsuit Scams

These scams involve real tenants actually signing a lease agreement and moving in – only to invent an excuse for a lawsuit. This could be failure to provide lead paint documentation or really anything that sounds scary and serious. Even if the tenants eventually lose the lawsuit, they can still often live for free while the landlord deals with the suit. Court may put a stay on any eviction proceedings until the lawsuit is decided.

False Check Refunds

Impostors often will pose as renters who agree to pay a security deposit and rent without viewing the property. Then the impostors send fraudulent cashier’s checks in excess of the stated amounts and request that landlords return the overages. After sending a “partial refund,” landlords learn the up-front payments were counterfeit.

How to avoid scammers – here are some ways in which landlords and property managers can guard against these scams:

Limit Information

Publish limited information on the internet regarding yourself and your properties. Post the intersection instead of the full street address. Serious prospects will call, giving you the opportunity to conduct a phone screening prior to divulging sensitive information.

Use An Alternate Phone Number

Never use your cell or home phone in your rental ads. Consider free options such as Google Voice to receive calls on your cell phone without giving away your true phone number.

Conduct A Background Check via Telephone

Always conduct a preliminary background check via telephone prior to showing the property. Scammers will be uncomfortable answering many questions. When doing a more complete screening after showing the property to an interested tenant, be sure to verify their employment, income, credit history, criminal background, and court history. If they have ever sued a landlord, keep searching.

Watermark Your Photos

Watermarking your pictures is one way to prevent picture theft. There are a number of watermark software programs and some free online versions. Do some research to choose the appropriate one for you.

Now that you know some ways to avoid getting scammed, also check out our post on protecting your computer from a cyber attack: http://tfblog.tenantfile.com/2015/10/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-property-manager-post-cyber-attack/